Field vegetables

Activity leader:

Martin HOMMES (JKI): - 49 531 299 - 4404/4401


While the acreage of vegetable crops is modest relative to arable crops, pesticide use in these crops has high visibility among retailers and consumers for whom instances of MRL exceedances constitute major sources of concern. In terms of reliance, crop protection for vegetables is widely reliant on pesticides with routine calendar-based spraying being the general rule at present. The most recent survey (2005) in Germany yielded a TFI of 10 for cabbage. Farmers are faced with the issue of “orphaned” crops, i.e., crops for which there are no authorised pesticides due to evolving legislation. PURE overcome this by developing alternative strategies based on releasing and promoting beneficials, using biological pesticides or more selective pesticides, and the use of innovative cell sprayers. These solutions will reduce treatment frequency, pesticide volume, environmental impact, and MRL exceedances. With respect to weed management in cabbage, the strategy developed by PURE will completely eliminates the need for herbicides. This strategy will be applicable to transplanted vegetables beyond cabbage. Moreover, the work on bio-fumigant crops holds the potential to forego fungicide applications against soil-borne diseases in a variety of vegetable production systems. 


Objectives of this activity are to:

- Design innovative IPM solutions applicable to a range of field vegetable systems which will contribute to reducing reliance on pesticides and risks to human health.

- Ensure that these IPM solutions satisfy the needs of concerned stakeholders via on-station and on-farm trials in a diversity of growing regions.

- Disseminate usable results.


There is a wide body of pre-existing knowledge on individual crop protection tactics and production methods in cabbage. It will build upon results gained in the Field vegetable case study of ENDURE. The general approach is to create long-term solutions that combine tactics, new technologies and production methods to reduce reliance on pesticides, some of them being provided by "New knoledge and technologies" research activities. A range of levers will be optimised and combined to create workable IPM solutions, they include:

i. Exploiting ecological processes with push-pull strategies, companion planting, flower strips, banker plants and augmentative releases of biological control agents against both below-ground and above-ground insect pests and release of biopesticides.

ii. Crop succession and cruciferous bio-fumigant crops against soil-borne pathogens for pathogen soil suppression and deployment of plant diversity.

iii. Intervention thresholds and an innovative vacuum collector against above-ground insect pests.

iv. Transplanting seedlings, innovative physical weeding technology and use of cell row herbicide sprayer for weed management (testing of canopy adapted sprayer).

Once evaluated, further refined and validated with stakeholders during the ex-ante assessment process, we will test promising candidate solutions in 6 countries via on-station and on-farm experiments.

The outcomes of the work specifically on cabbage can be in many cases directly transferred to other cruciferous vegetable crops. The results on weed control solutions are applicable to all other crops that are part of the cabbage based rotations and many other vegetable species that can be transplanted. Successful approaches against the main insect pests of cabbage (root fly, cabbage aphid and Lepidoptera) can also be used for a range of other field vegetable crops where these insect pests also occur.

Experimental sites:

Description of Deliverables:

Ex-post assessment of the IPM solutions tested the first year on-station and ex-ante assessment of the IPM solutions re-designed on this basis
A design-assessment-adjustment cycle will be adopted to ensure continuous validation and improvement of the IPM solutions. On-station experiments will be used to test technical aspects of the IPM solutions while on-farm experiments besides the technical aspects will also consider the practical aspects and potential obstacles to the implementation of innovative IPM solutions, 

First selection of suitable IPM solutions which could be implemented in practice and recommended to farmers
Selection of IPM tools and solutions, including innovative tools, tested on-station and possibly validated on-farm 

Ex-post assessment of the tested IPM solutions using DEXiPM
The final step is an ex-post assessment of the environmental and economic/social sustainability of the IPM solutions also using DEXiPM and other available assessment tools.

IPM guidelines for cabbage based farming systems in Europe
PURE will contribute to the definition of IPM standards throughout Europe by developing IPM guidelines in several cropping systems and guidelines for a multi-criteria assessment of crop protection standards.

The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Union Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/ 2007-2013) under the grant agreement n°265865- PURE